Trader Vic's vacated the Benson hotel in 1996 after an epic 40yr run, but the Tiki Gods have smiled on Portland with the return of the small tropical island chain, which's installing only their sixth US location in the heart of the Pearl: a thatch n' fire resto/ lounge that rocks elaborate South Seas style, plenty of smoked edibles, and of course, stiff tiki drinks, perfect for when you're feeling like a Suffering Bastard. The awesome:
Look Around: True to Trader's form, the elaborate Rat-Pack-builds-a-Fijian-hut feel of the interior is tempered with modern touches like a stacked slate entryway water-feature beside a lush living wall, banquettes that glow deep emerald, and a live-edge English walnut bar and lounge tables. Ignore the people you’re hanging out with to scope out artifacts ranging from the Indiana Jones-ish Trader family vault, like a grinning 80yr-old New Guinean witch-doctor mask, a Hawaiian Ku strength-giving god carved from a single coco palm, and a 60yr-old skin canoe made by the Inuit, who apparently don't have flutes.
Eat and Drink: Topping the dranks list is the tart and boozy Nelson's Blood (PDX Trader's signature cocktail made with blood orange puree, brandy, Velvet Falernum, Trader Vic's dark rum, and ginger beer), named after the legendary rum which preserved the body of Admiral Nelson on its journey to be buried in England and was surreptitiously consumed by sailors who didn't seem to mind a touch of cadaver blood. Meanwhile, smoky chow like sugar/ salt-brined slow-cooked ribs and delicate local fish are made in a Chinese oven stoked like a wood stove to reach over 500 degrees, also a band that's 5.102 times better than that Drew Lachey one that had a 2yr run, and is hopefully never coming back.